Iran’s Khamenei makes appearance after rumours of ill health
TEHRAN // Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made a public appearance on Sunday amid rumours about his health, as a relative dismissed the claims as gossip meant to derail continuing nuclear talks with world powers.
State television aired pictures Sunday of the 75-year-old Mr Khamenei addressing a group of environmental officials and activists at his residence in central Tehran. He appeared to look comfortable and healthy in the footage.
Foreign-based news websites in recent days have claimed that Mr Khamenei, who has the final word on all matters in Iran, had been hospitalised in critical condition.
Mr Khamenei has been Iran’s top leader since the death in 1989 of the Islamic Republic’s founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. In September, Mr Khamenei underwent prostate surgery and spent about a week in the hospital before being released.
Iran is in the middle of critical negotiations with world powers over its contested nuclear programme. Mr Khamenei’s health is given significant attention because it may affect the process of talks for a final nuclear accord. Mr Khamenei has backed Iran’s negotiators publicly in the talks, but also has set his own requirements for what he wants out of any deal.
The supreme leader’s office and the government have issued no statement on his health. Iran’s former deputy foreign minister Sadeq Kharrazi, whose sister is married to Mr Khamenei’s son, said rumours spread about Mr Khamenei’s health were released by those seeking to undermine the nuclear talks and weaken Iran’s position.
“The intention behind spreading such lies is to demoralise Iran’s negotiators and the Iranian people and overshadow Iran’s successful policy (in fighting the ISIL group) in Iraq and Syria,” he said in comments widely published on Sunday in Iranian newspapers.
* Associated Press
Updated: March 8, 2015 04:00 AM